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Cubs' Ryan Dempster could be gone soon 

Tony CampanCubs makes an unsuccessful bunt attempt sixth inning Wrigley Field Thursday June 14 2012 Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Tony Campana of the Cubs makes an unsuccessful bunt attempt in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field Thursday, June 14, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Red Sox at Cubs

The facts: 1:20 p.m., CSN, 720-AM, 1200-AM.

The pitchers: Ryan Dempster (2-3, 2.31 ERA) vs. Disuke Matsuzaka (0-1, 7.20).

The rest of the series

Saturday: 6:15 p.m., Fox-32, 720-AM, 1200-AM. Jeff Samardzija (5-4, 3.96) vs. Jon Lester (3-4, 4.57).

Sunday: 7:05 p.m., ESPN, 720-AM, 1200-AM. Paul Maholm (4-5, 4.91) vs. Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.14).

Updated: August 23, 2012 9:53AM

Searching for ways to avoid looking directly into the blinding baseball being played by the Cubs? Look no further than the story lines playing out this weekend.

Beyond the Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod reunion with old pals and non-pals from their lengthy and influential tenure with the Boston Red Sox, the series opens Friday with one of the most intriguing subplots as Ryan Dempster makes what could be his last start as a Cub at Wrigley Field.

Dempster, who has talked with management more than once about the prospects of being traded and waiving his no-trade rights, is coveted by several would-be contenders, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

Rival executives say his rent-a-player status and high performance could prompt teams to strike quick with strong offers.

“If that’s the case, then I’d have to really consider it at that point,’’ said Dempster, who takes a 15-­inning scoreless streak into Friday.

The Cubs-Red Sox series also reunites Starlin Castro with new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who famously called out Castro last year while working as a broadcaster for ESPN when Castro was caught daydreaming in the field, back turned, between pitches.

Surgery for Stewart?

Third baseman Ian Stewart, who was put on the disabled list Thursday, said he isn’t ruling out exploratory surgery as he tries to finally figure out what’s wrong with an ailing left wrist that hasn’t been right in more than a year.

Stewart, who expects to see a specialist Monday in Cleveland for a second opinion, said he sometimes experiences tingling near the wrist, suggesting a possible nerve issue. But he had a battery of tests last year with the Colorado Rockies that revealed no significant damage, he said.

‘‘With all the MRI and X-ray results, nothing of major value came up in there where they said, ‘We’ve got to get this done now,’ or it would have been taken care of a long time ago,’’ he said. ‘‘But there have been instances where things didn’t show up on those, and they can go in [surgically] and look and see if there are other things. I don’t know if we’ll go that route, but that’s definitely a possibility.’’


Infielder Luis Valbuena was called up from Class AAA Iowa to take Stewart’s roster spot. He started at third base Thursday.

◆ Catcher Koyie Hill was designated for assignment after a nearly four-week stint with the Cubs. That made room for Welington Castillo (groin), who was activated from the disabled list.

◆ Baseball America reported that Coastal Carolina right-hander Josh Conway, the Cubs’ fourth-round draft pick who is coming off Tommy John surgery, signed for a below-slot bonus of $280,000. The publication also reported that the Cubs signed their seventh-, eighth- and ninth-round picks.

◆ Supplemental-round pick Pierce Johnson, another college right-hander, also reportedly signed, according to multiple outlets, including Johnson via Twitter.

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